Is narcissism the same as egoism? Perhaps the best way to understand what is egoism, is to study its ostensible opposite: altruistic friendship.
What are friends for and how can a friendship be tested?
Friends behave altruistically, is the most common answer: they sacrifice their owns interests in favour of their friend's.
Friendship implies the converse of egoism, both psychologically and ethically. But is this truly so?
Consider the dog: "man's best friend". The dog is characterized by unconditional love, by unselfish behaviour, by sacrifice, when necessary. Isn't this the epitome of friendship? The dog's friendship is clearly unaffected by long term calculations of personal gain, of which it is allegedly incapable. But what about calculations of a short-term nature? The dogowner, after all, looks after the dog and is the source of the dog's subsistence and security. So, maybe the dog is selfish, after all: it clings and protects what it regards to be its territory and its property (including â and especially so - its owner).
Thus, the first condition, that friends must be unselfish and act selflessly is seemingly not satisfied even by canine attachment. Conclusion: friendship and selfishness are not a contradiction in terms. More about this later.
When we seek to characterize a relationship as friendship, there are three important conditions which do apply invariably:
(From the book "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited" by Sam Vaknin - Click on this link to purchase the print book, or 16 e-books, or 3 DVDs with 16 hours of video lectures on narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships: http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/thebook.html)